The Time Before – Comic Book Review
Follow Genre: Fantasy
Written by: Cyril Bonin
Illustrations: Cyril Bonin
Publisher: Blloan

The Time Before – Comic Book Review

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Good: Simple, yet very relatable plot
Bad: Nothing worth mentioning
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We all have that one moment in time, that one decision we wish we could change. One regret may be bigger than the other but it’s exactly because we can’t alter the past, that we learn to live in the present and don’t make decisions too lightly. Still, the thought does cross our minds every now and then: What if? If only…

The time before1

New York, 1958. When Walter Benedict, a young photographer, comes home one night, he passes an old street seller on the pavement near his apartment. All of a sudden, while preparing for bed, he hears screams and when he looks out the window, he sees the old man being attacked. He runs outside and scares the assailants off, then takes the old man to his apartment to tend to his wounds. As a sign of appreciation, the man gives Walter his talisman and tells him that the stone has ‘certain powers’. Walter doesn’t think much of it, but does wear the talisman nonetheless.

The next day, Walter’s got some studio work to do for the magazine Way Out, but when he is hooking up with the model afterwards and she turns out to be his boss’ daughter, he gets fired immediately. Pondering about what just happened, he walks around the city. The talisman didn’t bring him much luck so far. If only he could go back in time… and there he is, back in his apartment with the old man sitting opposite to him. Apparently, the talisman can take its owner back in time. It’s an ideal way for Walter to relive his life over and over, always making the right decisions.

His career is launching pretty well, but one night, while on his way to Philadelphia to photograph Kennedy’s election campaign, his car slips and he ends up in hospital. At first he can’t reach his talisman to undo things, and by the time he can, he’s not so sure that he wants to. The nurse taking care of him, Lisa, has such a charming personality. They start dating, but Walter keeps feeling that he can’t give her what she deserves, as his career isn’t going so well after the accident. Maybe he should use the talisman, but what if that means losing the Lisa he came to love?

The subject of time travel is one that has been explored several times before, and to be honest, we were a bit skeptical, as going back in time inevitably means that there is going to be some repetition. We were pleasantly surprised though, as the story focuses more on the choices Walter makes and how it alters the course of his life, rather than sticking too much with the recurring scenes. In this story, it only comes down to one thing in the end, and that’s Walter’s search for love and happiness, yet without giving up his blooming career. Simple as it may be, a story like this makes you wonder about your own life as well.

Where the text doesn’t particularly focus on the recurrence of scenes, the illustrations do. You’ll recognize many of the panels, as they are often reused, without any alteration whatsoever. Using this technique, Cyril Bonin manages to underline the story and the repetition, without hampering the course of the tale. Bonin shows a drawing style that is different yet likeable, and mostly uses shades of green, yellow and brown to go with the sixties timeframe.


In The Time Before we get treated to a story that, despite the repetitiveness of moments being relived, is enjoyable because of its simplicity. The search for happiness and the will to do everything right are so universal that this story will definitely be able to please many. The illustrations and the limited color palette only contribute to that.

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